No fooling, this idea has been kicking around since 2008, when the AV Club published a great list of single scene film performances. I wondered if it could be taken one step further; what are the greatest one line performances of all time? With the unveiling of OTI 2.0, it seemed like a great time to give this a shot.
The first line that sprang to my mind didn’t make the video. In Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, there’s a moment where Maid Marian is alone in her castle and hears a sound. She gets up and walks cautiously into the darkness, and then she’s predictably jump-scared by her cat. (Idea for future list: the greatest jump scares by cats. Alien will win.) And then when she’s breathing a sigh of relief, she’s suddenly grabbed from behind by one of the Sheriff of Nottingham’s guards, who tells her: “I’ve never seen the the breasts of a noble woman.” She wrenches herself free and that’s the only thing that guy ever says. It’s always struck me as incredibly twisted. There’s the threat of sexual violence of course, but also a dehumanizing detachment. He’s not even lustful; he’s resentful. I’d love to write a thousand words about the meaning of class, nobility, and inequality in that movie (which is about a formerly rich guy who becomes a working class hero), and that nameless henchman’s one line is an ugly funhouse mirror held up to Robin’s egalitarian hippie ideals.
Sorry, where was I?
Right. This video isn’t about that line from Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves. We wanted to focus on low-hanging fruit from well-known trees, if you will. But I’d love to do future installments of this series, where we can share some deeper cuts. So please post comments below with your own personal favorite one line film roles. Maybe we’ll use them next time and give you a shoutout!
To get your imagination working, can you identify the movie that each of these is from?
- Hey look! It’s Enrico Pallazzo!
- Send… more… paramedics.
- Do you mind if we dance with your dates?
- If you’re really a prince, I’ll marry you.
(FYI, in case you didn’t get the “these pretzels are making me thirsty” reference up top, there was a season 3 episode of Seinfeld in which Kramer gets a single line in a Woody Allen movie. I still hope Woody Allen works that line into a movie for real, and casts Michael Richards.)
I can identify the first two quotes’ source: Naked Gun and Return of the Living Dead…no idea about the second two.
The second one was the hard one! Take a bow! If you’re a Return of the Living Dead fan, check out an old article I wrote about the outsized impact of this movie:
I’ll drop a hint for the other two quotes in here tomorrow, if nobody’s got ’em.
I read that article when it was first posted. Its a favorite of mine. During my annual Zombie Movie marathon I often make a point of informing the audience that Return of the Living Dead gave us the first reference to zombies wanting to eat Brains. Because of this it is often the first watched film in the marathon.
I couldn’t resist posting my favorite one-line movie role, from Monty Python’s The Life of Brian.
Jesus is addressing a throng of followers outside his window.
Jesus: You don’t need to follow me! You don’t need to follow anyone! You’ve got to think for yourselves! You’re all individuals!
Crowd: Yes! We’re all individuals!
Jesus: You’re all different!
Crowd: Yes! We’re all different!
Some guy: I’m not.
Crowd (to guy): Shh!
(Commenter obviously confused Brian with Jesus, much like the crowd)
“I had one line on the Sopranos and that makes me more gangster than you! ‘Leon take your break at 2.'” – Eric Weiner
(This youtube video actually got him the role of Michael Shannon’s partner on Boardwalk Empire – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CCx8xjHMt_M)
Hey, how about another video about the greatest single shots (with or without dialogue) in a movie or TV show.
I vote for the shot in Ocean’s Eleven (2001) where they are blowing up the casino and everyone turns around except George Clooney and Matt Damon. It is just that good!
“I’m not dead yet.”
I am had trouble thinking of some one line movie roles so I do what I always do when faced with trouble. I watched Star Wars. There are a lot of fun one scene roles throughout the franchise. The most recent film had the one stormtrooper yelling: “Traitor”.
But I think my favorite Star Wars one line role goes to the Imperial Officer in Return of the Jedi that captures Solo in the bunker. As he’s arresting Solo he says “You rebel scum!”
Its not a great line but the delivery is perfect. The amount of vile and loathing in that delivery is impressive.
Ooh, the “Traitor” stormtrooper is a good one. His line, combined with his sassy moves, have turned him into something of a cult phenomenon.
See also: http://knowyourmeme.com/memes/tr-8r-the-stormtrooper
Sadly, I’m going to have to declare the “traitor” guy disqualified. That may be his only line but he gets a whole epic fight scene. Violates the spirit of this exercise. Unofficial rule: 15 seconds of screen time or less.
On the other hand, I totally remember the “You rebel scum!” guy and he fits the bill.
I don’t know about another one line, but I’d be all over the in-depth analysis of Prince of Thieves. Just sayin’.
Okay, might be too long, but props to the half-monologue given by Simone Adamly (Kristy Swanson) on the whereabouts of Ferris Bueller.
Speaking of Woody Allen:
“I forgot my mantra.”
“I’d buy that for a dollar”
#4 is Coming to America, the charming little tale about an african prince using deception to take advantage of an american famil…..hey, wait a minute